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African American History: A Very Short Introduction [#729]
African American History: A Very Short Introduction [#729]
  • Traces the complex history of African Americans, from the arrival of enslaved Africans at Jamestown to the Black Lives Matter movement
  • Highlights the contributions of such notable African Americans as David Walker, Harriet Tubman, Marian Anderson, Nina Simone, and Barack Obama
  • Highlights African Americans' active role in making this nation and in articulating their own past


What does it mean to be an American? The story of the African American past demonstrates the difficulty of answering this seemingly simple question. If being "American" means living in a land of freedom and opportunity, what are we to make of those Americans who were enslaved and have suffered from the limitations of second-class citizenship throughout their lives? African American history illuminates the United States' core paradoxes, inviting profound questions about what it means to be an American, a citizen, and a human being.
This book considers how, for centuries, African Americans have fought for what the black feminist intellectual Anna Julia Cooper called "the cause of freedom." It begins in Jamestown in 1619, when the first shipment of enslaved Africans arrived in that settlement. It narrates the creation of a system of racialized chattel slavery, the eventual dismantling of that system in the national bloodletting of the Civil War, and the ways that civil rights disputes have continued to erupt in the more than 150 years since Emancipation. This Very Short Introduction carries forward to the Black Lives Matter movement, a grass-roots activist convulsion that declared that African Americans' present and past have value and meaning. At a moment when political debates grapple with the nation's obligation to acknowledge and perhaps even repair its original sin of racialized slavery, author Jonathan Scott Holloway tells a story about American citizens' capacity and willingness to realize the ideal articulated in America's founding document, namely, that all people were created equal.



Chapter 1: Race, slavery, and ideology in colonial North America
Chapter 2: Resistance and African American identity before the Civil War
Chapter 3: War, freedom, and a nation reconsidered
Chapter 4: Civilization, race, and the politics of uplift
Chapter 5: The making of the modern Civil Rights Movement(s)
Chapter 6: The paradoxes of post-civil rights America
Epilogue: Stony the road we trod

Further Reading

About the author: 

Jonathan Scott Holloway is President of Rutgers University. He was formerly provost at Northwestern University and Dean of Yale College. He specializes in intellectual and social history, with an emphasis on post-emancipation United States history. His books include Jim Crow Wisdom: Memory and Identity in Black America Since 1940 and Confronting the Veil: Abram Harris Jr, E. Franklin Frazier, and Ralph Bunche, 1919-1941.

Product details

ISBN : 9780190915155

Jonathan Scott Holloway
152 Pages
111 x 174 mm
Pub date
Feb 2023
Very Short Introductions
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African American History: A Very Short Introduction [#729]

African American History: A Very Short Introduction [#729]

African American History: A Very Short Introduction [#729]